Browsing Category Features

NRP: Kathy Smith – 2

Again, using this column to shine a bit of light on an album that’s been pinched between the cracks. While there are dozens of reissues pressing down each month, it seems that for each complete knockout, there are just as many superfluous retreads of dollar bin fodder best left to their original incarnations. So Necessary Repress finds me wandering through those records that elude local capture or beg too much on the secondary market. An apt example as any would certainly be the sophomore LP from L.A. folk artist Kathy Smith. Though she’s been a collector’s gem for quite some time, I came to Smith (as I imagine many might have) through Andy Votel’s lovely compilation Folk Is Not A Four Letter Word. Her song “It’s Taking So Long” from 2 gets prime placement on the comp and acts as an easy hook into Smith’s songwriting and style.

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NRP: The Orchids – Unholy Soul

Heading into another exploration of an album unfairly shuttled to the OOP shelf these days. This column seems particularly piercing in the looming shadow of yet another Record Store Day, with no doubt deserving gems from Disturbed and Jeff Beck’s – Truth (a record you can find easily for $5-7 in most used shops) preparing for their assent back to the shelves. Not that it’s all bad. On any other day I’d pop in for a copy of Burt Jansch’s L.A. Turnaround and oddball ‘90s poppers Chainsaw Kittens if I didn’t have them already. So here goes my continual wishlist to the gods of proper reissue, nominating the sophomore LP from Glaswegian janglers The Orchids.

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Cut Worms’ Max Clarke on Leonard Cohen’s – Death Of A Ladies’ Man

Sometimes an album can sucker punch you in the best ways. After hearing Cut Worms’ first EP I was prepared to know what to expect from a full length. It seemed like an extension of the folk pop from that short format would follow, but instead the band’s Max Clarke shines with an album of country pop that’s on par with Sonny Smith’s dry-wit and easy hooks. The record is a refined affair that shows an artist growing exponentially from his early works and it makes me excited for what’s to come from him down the line. Clarke makes a pick here for the site’s Hidden Gems series, singling out Leonard Cohen’s unlikely team-up with Phil Spector as a a diamond among the artist’s usually worked over and oft analyzed catalog.

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NRP: The Hot Dogs – Say What You Mean

The bases on reissues are regularly covered here in the Re-released into the Wild column, though I’ve found that while the steady stream of reissues picks up a lot of the great bits from the past (some I’ve been waiting for and some I’ve discovered through labels I love) there still remain a lot of records that are consigned to the purgatory of out of print status. This is especially frustrating given that the pressing plants are all too often packed out with garbage reissues of dollar bin titles looking to cash in on a nostalgia trip. So, with Necessary Repress I’m going to look at a few records I think absolutely deserve to work their way back to the stacks. Now, I know that the complex web of licenses, rights, and royalties are often what holds up a new issue, so I’m not holding my breath, just making my case.

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Red River Dialect’s David Morris on The Dead Texan – S/T

Red River Dialect’s fourth album pushed songwriter David Morris’ vision to larger vistas. The album is rooted in touches of his native Cornish folk, but also encompasses the sweeping embrace of tender, yet tangled pop touchstones like Talk Talk, Shearwater or Okkervil River. His songs are personal wrangles with sadness and longing and faith in the face of the world. As such I’d have imagined David to reflect on something similar, an English folk nugget buried in the past or a bit of ’80s pop that perhaps showed similar attention to emotional depth. But, as always, I’ve learned that going into these pieces with expectations always leads down a broken path. Morris mentioned that he was on the verge of picking just such an artist, as he has had a recent interest in Scottish folk musician Jackie Leven, but couldn’t narrow his rabbit hole down to one record. Instead he’s gone in the opposite direction, picking the 2004 eponymous record by The Dead Texan.

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Pete Astor on The Carter Family – A Collection of Favorites

It’s been a few years now since Hidden Gems’ debut, and while some true RSTB faves have worked through the ranks this might be the first time I can say a true legend is contributing. In the halls of jangle-pop Pete Astor has anchored some gems of his own, helming Creation bands The Loft and The Weather Prophets as well as Matador alums The Wisdom of Harry. In later years Astor has delivered two sterling solo albums (with some help from James Hoare) that cement his status as one of the deft hands in indie pop. He’s also an accomplished writer, having contributed to the 33 1/3 series with a critique of The Voidoids’ seminal Blank Generation. Now he’s dug back to his early days (hence the provided baby faced ’81 portrait up there) for one of the albums that drew him into music in the first place, shining light on a collection by The Carter Family that sparked an early drive towards songwriting.

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Amen Dunes’ Damon McMahon on The La’s – S/T

Years ago Damon McMahon contributed a track to one of RSTB’s first free download compilations. At the time his debut, Dia was just released and it was a flickering window of static rimmed folk that played well with the lo-fi crowd that dotted an indie landscape. Years later he’s embarking on his most ambitious and stridently pop album yet and he’s back to contribute to Hidden Gems, an exploration of albums that haven’t necessarily gotten their due in the pantheon of pop. Damon’s chosen an album that’s often lauded for its single but forgotten as a whole piece. The La’s 1990 debut will always be known for “There She Goes,” but as an album it lies squarely on the fault lines between jangle and Britpop.

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Eric Allen (of The Apples in Stereo) on Chris Knox – Songs of You and Me

Working down the list of wishlist contributions to the Hidden Gems series has brought me to a fairly big influence on RSTB in general. For a good swath of the ‘90s, and to be honest a good portion of the ‘00s, the works of the Elephant 6 Collective reigned supreme in my listening habits. So, it’s with some excitement that this contribution comes from Apples in Stereo founding member and bassist Eric Allen. Eric’s taken a stab at an album that he’s found has missed its due and remains a treasure among ‘90s CD stacks. Check out below as he tackles Chris Knox’ 1995 sprawler Songs of You and Me and listening back again, I can see how this one made its mark on the band’s sound for sure.

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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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John Dwyer on Eddie Harris – I Need Some Money

There have been a few artists that remain the cornerstones of RSTB coverage, and without a doubt those are ones I’ve had on the wishlist for the Hidden Gems feature since it started up a couple of years back. Teetering near the top of that list has always been the madman John Dwyer. Thee Oh Sees have spanned 20 releases now and show no sign of slowing. Dwyer’s seared psych has always shown nods to some deeper cuts in the ’60s canon, and his latest LP stripped things back to a decidedly glycerine, serene version of the sound. I’d expected maybe a run towards that route, but that’s what keeps these pieces so interesting. Catching up with Dwyer, he gave an account of how Eddie Harris’ 1975 album I Need Some Money came into his life and the long-lasting impact it’s had on him.

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